Pacers Having Fun After First Week in Bubble

July 17, 2020 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan and players Doug McDermott and Aaron Holiday share their takeaways after the first week of practice at the NBA bubble in Orlando.

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Pacers Having Fun After First Week in Bubble

July 17, 2020 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan and players Doug McDermott and Aaron Holiday share their takeaways after the first week of practice at the NBA bubble in Orlando.
Jul 17, 2020  |  01:43

Brogdon Recovered, Back at Practice

July 16, 2020 - Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon and head coach Nate McMillan discuss Brogdon's recovery from COVID-19, why he is wearing a mask at practice, and life in the NBA bubble.
Jul 16, 2020  |  02:06

Oladipo: There's a Strong Possibility I Might Play

July 15, 2020 - Pacers All-Star guard Victor Oladipo explains why he is reconsidering his decision to sit out the 2019-20 NBA season restart after participating in practices with the team in Orlando.
Jul 15, 2020  |  02:14

McMillan, Brogdon on Team Discussions on Social Injustice

July 16, 2020 - Nate McMillan discusses a team screening of the documentary "13th" and Malcolm Brogdon reflects on discussion among the players about social injustice.
Jul 16, 2020  |  02:11

Myles Turner Feeling Comfortable Back on Court

July 13, 2020 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan discusses Myles Turner's growth during the 2019-20 season and four-month hiatus and then Turner shares his thoughts on being back on the practice court in Orlando.
Jul 13, 2020  |  01:58

McMillan, Sabonis on Pacers' Conditioning

July 12, 2020 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan and forward Domantas Sabonis discuss the Pacers' fitness level after holding their first two practices in fourth months.
Jul 12, 2020  |  02:36

Pacers Come Out of Quarantine for First Practice

July 11, 2020 - After a 48-hour quarantine after arriving at the NBA restart bubble in Orlando, Pacers head coach Nate McMillan and players T.J. Warren and T.J. McConnell spoke with the media following the team's first practice in four months.
Jul 11, 2020  |  02:26

Bubble Has "Summer Camp" Feel for Pacers

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Despite the daily virus testing, the irregular practice schedules, the restrictions on movement and dining options and the fundamental challenge of being away from home for a couple of months, the Pacers seem to be enjoying their experience inside the NBA bubble in Orlando so far.

That is, unless you're stuck playing golf with teammates who don't know a wedge from a wedgie.

Doug McDermott had that unfortunate experience over the weekend when he played nine holes with teammates Victor Oladipo and T.J. McConnell. McDermott is an accomplished golfer, usually hovering around a four handicap. He shot a 40 over those nine holes, below his norm because of the distraction of having to instruct and babysit his newbie playing partners.

It could have been worse, however.

"McConnell, I don't know if he even broke 60," McDermott said Friday evening. "And Vic probably lost 60 balls. I'll leave it at that."

McDermott said the nine-hole round lasted 3 1/2 hours, about twice as long as the norm when a course isn't overcrowded, but he has no complaints. Golf is golf, teammates are teammates, and when you're living within a resort it almost seems like a fantasy world.

And if a marathon round of golf is the most frustrating experience a player can have in Orlando, where 22 teams have gathered to resume the NBA season, life must be good.

"It feels like summer camp when you're young," McDermott said while speaking with media members via a Zoom call from the Pacers' practice site. "Nothing but hoops and food and watching movies. It's crazy. I'm having a blast. It's going by a lot faster than I thought it would. The NBA's taking really good care of us."

There's a long way to go, of course. The Pacers don't play the first of their three exhibition games until July 23, and don't resume regular season play until Aug. 1. There are restrictions on where they can go aside from the hotel and practice court and they can be on the court only during the three-hour window established by the NBA.

Still, one week into their life in the bubble they sound more like happy kids at summer camp than confined prisoners eager to regain their freedom. The most annoying aspect so far has been the daily testing for COVID-19, performed with swabs of their nostrils and mouth. They have from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to get it done, and if one of them tests positive the NBA-issued band on their wrist will change color to inform them they have to report to medical personnel.

So far, all Pacer wrist bands have remained green.

"We've gotten used to it and now guys just go in there when there's nobody else in there and take two minutes to get it done," Pacers coach Nate McMillan said following Friday's practice.

"We have to do it, so it is what it is," Aaron Holiday added. "It's going pretty well. Nothing too crazy."

The daily testing has made the players comfortable with the typical physical interaction on a basketball court. Holiday said players are more careful with their mouthpieces and McMillan and others have stated hand-slaps and bro-hugs are less frequent. But not dramatically so.

"We're getting tested every day, so we know everyone's safe for the most part," McDermott said. "We're playing five on five with each other. If you're not going to get it there...We're doing a good job off the floor, trying not going to each other's rooms, and when we go to dinner it's only two at a table. You're not allowed to have three. It's taken some time to get adjusted to that stuff, but for the most part it's been pretty smooth."

The Pacers are one of seven NBA teams staying in their hotel, so they are able to interact some with players from other teams while en route to practice and the dining area. They are not allowed to go to other hotels, but McMillan said that restriction will be removed next Wednesday.

The Pacers also are putting on their own events to entertain and inform the players. Wednesday, they watched a documentary, "13th," about racial injustice in the prison system and had a group discussion afterward that McDermott cited as a bonding experience. Next up: A documentary on what McDermott called "Goga's country." That would be Georgia, where rookie Goga Bitadze was born and raised.

Hanging around your buddies, playing basketball, having the option of recreational activities such as golf, fishing and boating, watching movies, eating well...what's not to like?

"We haven't been with each other for a whole lot of time, but it kind of feels like the India trip (before last season)," McDermott said.

"It's just good to be around each other. It's been really fun so far."

Who Looks Good?

The Pacers who have been available on the video conference call are often asked which players are excelling in practice. Myles Turner and T.J. Warren were cited by Malcolm Brogdon on Thursday. McDermott mentioned both of them again on Friday and added Oladipo to the list.

"I've been really impressed with T.J. Warren," McDermott said. "He's really expanded his range; he' s knocking down a lot of threes. Victor in particular looks phenomenal. He seems confident. I'm really excited to see him back on the floor regardless of (whether he plays in the upcoming games). And Myles' post-up game has gotten a lot better over the break."


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Mark Montieth's book on the formation and groundbreaking seasons of the Pacers, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," is available in bookstores throughout Indiana and on Amazon.com.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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